Recently I’ve been reading a lot about community engagement for marketers to understand what certain groups of people are interested in and talking about.
Naturally, LinkedIn groups would be a fit for this, but my short interactions with them in the past have been quite sad in that I see most groups mainly full of spam.
But you know, that was in 2010 something. I should probably take another look.
Here are my notes, not that in-depth but perhaps enough that you can get a quick read on the group situation yourself.
Related Reading: My notes on experimenting with communities for content promotion
Is anyone interested in LinkedIn groups?
As you can see from the graph above, my super scientific method of looking up LinkedIn groups as a keyword on Google trends shows that interest has been slowly dying over time.
Hmm, no surprises there.
This is really sad to see but what was interesting to me was that popularity seemed to be greater in certain countries.
Singapore of all places seemed to be a really engaged place for LinkedIn groups. So I decided to have a closer look. Perhaps they will have some halfway decent groups.
Are LinkedIn groups full of spam?
With the country identified I headed over to LinkedIn and found one of the most popular groups that I could fairly easily join.
And I noticed as soon as I joined was that the group was mainly full of spam, as expected.
The first non-link post after 36 link posts in a row.
(Good on you, Sandeep!)
I appreciate that a lot of people have some great content to share but it took me quite a few scrolls to actually see posts that didn’t share a link and focused on networking or discussion.
I can’t really get a proper read on Singapore though. No other group accepted me. (The group quality is … probably ok, in there?).
Ok, so this was Singapore, but what about other places?
I decided to try and join a whole bunch of other groups and see what some of the stats were on how many posts were sharing links or spamming, and how many were starting discussions.
Unfortunately, many were much, much worse.
I won’t screenshot them here because they need all the help that they can get, but many of them had around 59 link posts to 1 conversation-related discussion post.
Is it worth posting in LinkedIn Groups?
Knowing that most groups were full of spam (except for maybe some Singaporean groups), this made me start to question, does posting in the groups even work?
I headed over to a super popular group with over 144,266 members and set up a poll.
Polls have been taking over LinkedIn recently so I thought this would be a really easy way to get a read on polls.
I will admit, maybe my poll wasn’t very interesting or useful to the hundreds of thousands of people in the group, but two votes including one of my own is a little sad.
Are they useful?
OK so posting in groups isn’t even that useful anyway it seems. Perhaps the reason is the reputation has been so tarnished that people don’t even bother, or there is way too much spam in the first place.
I reached out to about five different group owners as well to see if they were willing to share some insights or thoughts with me but sadly none of these have been accepted to date.
I might come back and update this email later once I have heard from some of them.
The question I have is, “What should LinkedIn groups be used for anyway?“
When I think about it, it’s not necessarily a great place to make new connections. You can just look people up and LinkedIn probably wants you to use Sales Navigator if you want to get more targeted in your searches.
For posts, you’re probably better off posting to your entire audience based on how much engagement and impressions you are getting on these things.
And lastly, for building a community, well it seems that Facebook groups are much better for this.
(An honourable mention here goes to Slack too which seems to always have interesting communities being created despite the lack of supporting features. But back to Facebook groups…)
Having run a Facebook group myself and even knowing that members don’t even see every post on their feed anyway, it is much easier to run a group on Facebook even if it is business related.
Something that doesn’t work well on Facebook, however, is trying to market events.
Anyone who has run ad campaigns for Facebook knows that the ad objective on Facebook is pretty bad at getting people to actually register.
They have that dumb feature where you can select “I’m interested” instead of “yes I’m going”, and that still counts as a conversion on your Facebook event ad campaign.
LinkedIn on the other hand much better response rate and you can invite people directly to an event using their mass invite feature.
Yes, I will admit that some people are abusing this right now but it is still a good feature if you’re running in an event yourself.
Which brings up an interesting idea.
What could LinkedIn use groups for?
From what I can see they look like they could be an interesting opportunity for LinkedIn to use their groups as a way to build communities through virtual events.
If you survey the market you can see that webinars tend to be more popular with the professional crowd, rather than hobbyists, friendship groups and party-goers.
If LinkedIn wanted, they could probably become the go-to place for online professional events and have them nested in groups.
The audience is already there, people are using the mass invite feature and they are getting results.
Why connect events to groups?
From my experience running events, having the event attached to a group is a key way to get future attendance for the upcoming events.
Groups compliment and keep the events running.
When people attend more than one event and know other people in the same community, then they are more likely to attend the next and the next.
Perhaps if they leaned into this they could possibly even capture some of the professional communities back from Facebook.
In any case, I hope you found this as interesting as I did. I know LinkedIn is probably not going to see this post so what are we really going to do about it?
I still have some hope for LinkedIn groups in that they may come back one day but right now it seems their potential is still yet to be realized.
But then again, I said the same thing about Google Plus.